The world's cheapest car, the Nano, rolled out of its new plant in Gujarat on Wednesday, two years after Tata Motors abandoned its first-choice factory at Singur in West Bengal after a violent land row.
Within hours of officially inaugurating the Rs 2,000-crore Sanand plant spread over 1,100 acres, Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi scurried for cover as rains and dusty winds engulfed the entire area, forcing the company to abandon the event mid-way.
The storm also led to the cancellation of a scheduled press conference by Tata at a ‘pandal’ (tent) erected outside the factory. Modi said at the inaugural function that he had moved in to capitalise on the trouble that the Tatas faced in Bengal.
Modi said it cost him Re 1 to bring the plant to Gujarat. “When Ratan Tata said at a press conference in Kolkata that they are leaving West Bengal, I sent him a short SMS saying welcome to Gujarat. And now you can see what a Re 1 (worth) SMS can do.”
After pulling out of Bengal, Tata Motors started limited production of Nano from its Pantnagar plant in Uttarakhand. It has so far delivered over 35,000 units.
However, only the first 1,00,000 customers are assured of getting the car at an ex-factory price of Rs 1,00,000.
“When I came here first on an industry visit, invited by the Gujarat chief minister, I was told that if it (the Nano plant) is not in Gujarat, I will be a stupid. I am no longer stupid after investing in Gujarat,” Tata said while inaugurating the plant.
The Sanand facility has the capacity to manufacture 2.5 lakh units annually, which can subsequently be increased to 5 lakh units per annum.
Pilot commercial production of Nano at Sanand has already begun.